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INTRODUCTORY  ESSAY.                               225
entered except hy Mporcroft j it is wholly under Chinese in-
6.  LAIUK.—This province, as restricted by us, extends from
Nan to Balti, a distance of 230 miles, in which the Indus
descends from 14,000 feet at Demchok, to 10,500 below Lc,
and at 8500 enters BaltL
Prom Hanle, the most elevated portion of this province, to
its lower end, the increase of vegetation is very gradual along
the valley of the Indus. The town of Hanle (14,300 feet
above the level of the sea) is situated- in a very open, undu-
lating, barren, saline plain, six to eight miles in diameter,
covered with bog-soil, and bearing plants characteristic, of
such localities. Bushes of Myricaricv become common at
14,000 feet, and these attain the character of sjnall trees at
13,000; below this, Poplars, Hippophae, ftv&i, etc. commence,
and form a low "brushwood. Le, the capital of the province
(and of West Tibet), is 11,800 feet above the sea.
7.   BALTI is a Mohamedan province,' and extends from
Ladak to the great bend of the Indus; it also includes the
lower course of the Shayuk river, up to 10,000 foot.    It is
conterminous on the south with Dras arid Ilasora, and bound-
ed on the north by the Koucnlun, or Mustagli.   The axis of
the latter is probably not less elevated than it is further east;
but little is known of its slopes north of Balti, except that,
owing to the damp winds finding free access by the Indus val-
ley, they are more snowy than anywhere to the eastward.
The bed of the Indus at Tolti is elevated about 7500 feet;
at Iskardo, the capital of the province, 7000; at Rondu,
6200; and at the great bend about 5000.
Throughout Balti the course of the Indus is in many'places
quite impracticable, from the narrowness of its defile and its
rugged bounding mountains. Except in the presence of the
subtropical genera mentioned at page 218, the vegetation of
Balti presents little of interest. Vines abound, climbing over
the poplars, and there is much cultivation in available Situa-